I met with a near 80 year old business leader recently. I’m not sharing his name. He’s not famous, but he is well-known in the region where I live. But, he’s been exceptionally successful. He’s made lots of money. And, as a result, he has tremendous influence and a very comfortable lifestyle. He’s a straight, candid talker. In spite of his success, he was exceptionally approachable and genuinely seemed to be a kind-hearted man. His benevolent activities in the community indicate that is true.
(As a side note, I’ve learned people such as this man are willing to share their wisdom if asked. They are often honored to do so.)
This man is still working hard today — hasn’t slowed down a bit — in fact, the day we met he was exploring a new business deal that will take an enormous amount of his time, but has huge potential for returns.
Knowing that I connect with community leaders — I feel that’s a large part of growing a church these days — several people suggested I meet with him. He’s very active in the region and therefore I knew he would have insight into how our church can be more involved locally. He is a believer, but does not attend my church.
I quickly knew I was in for a overload of wisdom. I couldn’t capture it quick enough. (Which is another reminder to always take a way to record notes when you have such a meeting. I’m glad I did.)
He was particularly interested in the next generation. He used the term “entitlement” several times. He feels we’ve perhaps spoiled our children too much and it is impacting who we are as a society. You’ll see those thoughts in our talk. We were surrounded by pictures of his family. I suspect he’s concerned for his children and grandchildren’s future.
I share some of his statements in our conversation without commentary — just as he shared them with me. My purpose in sharing is just to give you the opportunity I had — gleaning from a successful, self-made, community leader.
Here are some of the random notes I took away from our conversation:
A huge problem with leaders at times is the zeal axis and the wisdom axis aren’t aligned. By the time you develop your character enough (wisdom axis) you lose your zeal.
The older I get the easier I can see a bigger picture. I’ve learned a few things I wish some of our younger employees would hear.
I always try a team approach to an issue. I don’t like surprises. Worst thing in leading is a surprise. With a team approach there are fewer.
Don’t burn bridges. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them bad people. Don’t treat them that way. You may need their connection down the road.
I carve out the piece of someone I don’t like and love the rest of them. You can love them without loving that piece of them (that they may not even like themselves).
As a businessperson, I’ve had some of my best success dealing well with the least of these. Don’t consider others better than yourself and you’ll be rewarded eventually (for your humility).
There are no substitutes for hard work.
I quit hiring people who have “lifeguard” or “golf caddy” on their resume. I hire people who have worked at Wal Mart or Dairy Queen — places like that. I want to know you know how to actually work for a paycheck.
Many of the young people we hire today want all the quality of life benefits now, but they don’t want to earn it.
At what point did we become entitled to Spring Break? Or to better shoes than the mom has?
I believe every business leader owes it to their community to participate in making the community better. It makes you feel better. It helps the community, and the bonus is you actually get business out of it.
Every good thing that ever happened to me (apart from God’s grace) I earned. Every bad thing that ever happened to me (apart from God’s mercy) I earned.
You reap what you sow, generally speaking. As the old saying goes, “The harder I work the luckier I get.”
You may or may not agree with everything he said, but what stands out to you most?